Gavin Foonberg makes 1st Team All-Jewish Hoops America

Gavin Foonberg makes 1st Team All-Jewish Hoops America
  • Athletics
Matan Halzel

By Matan Halzel, Marketing Manager


At the conclusion of each high school basketball season, many eyes in the worldwide Jewish community shift toward one website. Jewish Hoops America (JHA) begins to put together the most meaningful list that young Jewish high school basketball players across the United States eagerly await to be released. On August 31, 2023, Gavin Foonberg (Class of 2023) and Denver Jewish Day School's 2022-23 Varsity Boys Basketball team made history, one last time. 


Foonberg was voted on the Boys 1st Team All-Jewish Hoops America, becoming the first and only player in DJDS history to receive this prestigious honor. The 2022-23 Varsity Boys Basketball team was voted by JHA as the #10 ranked Jewish high school basketball team (out of the Top 25) in the country at the end of the season, the highest ranking Denver JDS has ever received on JHA's end of season rankings.


How does JHA work? The mission of Jewish Hoops America is to further enhance Jewish basketball in North America and Israel, and you can learn more by clicking here. They have been on this mission since 2006, and have been keeping many people across the world informed on young Jewish basketball stars ever since. The team rankings and All-Jewish Hoops America teams are voted on by current and former college players, current former high school basketball coaches, and even lifelong fans. It's a widespread and diverse group of voters across the United States. 


Of all of the accolades that Foonberg has collected over his illustrious high school career, this ranks right up there with his 2023 1A Colorado State championship.


"I was waiting for that article to be published for a long time," said Foonberg. "It means a lot to make the Boys 1st Team All-Jewish Hoops America. Not only as a basketball player but even more so as a proud Jew." 



Foonberg built the rare list of accolades that many kids growing up around the world dream of - and he did it all in his senior year. But as a young Jewish athlete who attended Denver Jewish Day School for his whole life, the honors he received from JHA brought him full circle. The journey getting there was filled with ups and downs and learning experiences throughout his high school basketball career.



During his freshman year, Foonberg began his Varsity Basketball career right out of the gate as the starting point guard for DJDS. Foonberg joined a rare company with this feat, with only a handful of additional DJDS players starting on Varsity their freshman year, let alone making the Varsity squad their freshman year. From day one, Foonberg dazzled the crowd, teammates, and coaches with his phenomenal ball-handling skills and court vision. Foonberg's impact was evident as teams had a difficult time running a full-court press against DJDS with him on the court. Foonberg helped propel DJDS into their first district championship in over five years, where the Tigers fell just short to Mile High Academy. The Tigers went on to defeat Idalia in the Class 1A Regionals, their first-ever regional tournament victory, led by Foonberg in a breakout performance. The Tigers then lost to a talented Briggsdale team in the Sweet 16, almost completing an incredible comeback.



Four days after this loss, the world was struck by the COVID pandemic and everything went on full pause for a while. It wasn't until November of 2020 that CHSAA announced there would be a 2020-21 basketball season. Foonberg's sophomore season was a very unique one - limited to just 12 total games and student-athletes on teams across Colorado were testing positive for COVID and having to miss significant time from their seasons. Teams were left in scramble mode, trying to keep the chemistry flowing and their best teams together that they could. Foonberg led the Tigers to the Great 8 in an altered postseason format, the first time in school history that DJDS advanced beyond the Sweet 16. The Tigers were defeated by a very talented Belleview Christian team, who went on to win the state championship. Foonberg together with seniors Jon Kochavi and Emmett Wechsler (Class of 2021) made the most of a very unique season.



Normalcy returned for the 2021-22 season, and Foonberg elevated his game with Kochavi and Wechsler graduating. Foonberg averaged 20 PPG, 5.9 RPG, 9.5 APG, and 3.9 SPG. Foonberg led the state of Colorado in all classes with assists per game and total assists. Andrew Zimmerman, Ilan Schinagel, and Keenan Winnerman emerged as strong options, and together with Foonberg, they secured the first 5280 League District Championship in DJDS history over Belleview Christian. Foonberg and Zimmerman received 1st Team All-District honors, becoming the first teammates in school history to ever accomplish this feat. The Tigers received a first-round bye in the Round of 32 for the first time in school history but came up just short to Caprock Academy in the Sweet 16 in a crushing loss in De Beque, Colorado, nearly 4 hours away. This loss led to a very gloomy locker room following the game and a long bus ride home, filled with sadness, tears, and frustration. Every time the Tigers thought they were close to clinching their first-ever state tournament berth, they would fall just short. That narrative wore on the Tigers and Foonberg year after year, and it pushed them to work even harder over the offseason in preparation for their 2022-23 season. 



All of that hard work paid off. The long practices, growing pains, frustrating losses, and second-place finishes, all led to a magical run that is etched forever in the history books. The first state championship in DJDS history. It included a district championship over Belleview Christian, the #2 overall seed in the reformatted 32-team regional tournament, a raucous home crowd packing the Strear Family Gymnasium during the Round of 32 and Sweet 16 victories, the first appearance in the state tournament (Great 8) in school history, a Final 4 win over the defending state champions, McClave, and a state championship win once again over Belleview Christian. DJDS became the third Jewish school to ever win a basketball state championship.



Foonberg cemented himself as the best athlete in Denver JDS history his senior season, averaging 17.5 PPG, 8.6 APG, 5.6 RPG, and 3.5 SPG. During the 2022-23 season, Foonberg received 1st Team All-District honors, a District Championship, a Class 1A Colorado State Championship, 1st Team All-State Class 1A honors, and Class 1A Colorado Boys Basketball Player of the Year honors. And now to top it all off, voted on the 2022-23 Boys 1st Team All-Jewish Hoops America.


"In light of the recent atrocities that have taken place in Israel, now is as important of a time as ever for the Jewish people to stand together," said Foonberg. "I want Jewish boys and girls to strive to be the best athletes and Jewish people they can be. Recognizing accomplishments like these and being proud of who we are is vital for us. We must stay strong."



No one has worked harder for this end result, and all the while, Foonberg did so with his dad, Michael Foonberg as the head coach. Michael coached for 17 total years at DJDS, and coached his son and his classmates for nearly their entire lives. You could not have scripted a better ending.


Take a look at Foonberg's career numbers he recorded at Denver JDS.


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